Hong Kong’s Prince of Wales Hospital launches inquiry into case of severed finger that was thrown away mid-surgery

Danny Lee
·2-min read

Hong Kong’s Prince of Wales Hospital announced on Friday that it was launching an inquiry after discarding a finger that was meant to be reattached to a man who had accidentally severed it with an electric saw.

After the patient was sent into the operating theatre at 6.30pm on Wednesday, the severed finger was kept in a plastic box filled with ice water with various remarks to indicate the contents.

The doctors decided to first perform sutures of the blood vessels in the middle and ring fingers, which had also been severely injured, before reattaching the index finger.

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During a “duty handover” of staff at around 10.30pm, however, theatre nurses were unable to find the box that contained the severed finger.

Prince of Wales is expected to submit a report on the incident to the Hospital Authority within eight weeks. Photo: Edward Wong
Prince of Wales is expected to submit a report on the incident to the Hospital Authority within eight weeks. Photo: Edward Wong

It was not until 1.30am that the missing digit was found wrapped in its original sterile glove among the operating theatre’s medical waste.

Doctors concluded the detached finger was not damaged, but the blood flow to the finger could not be restored and it had to be removed. The whole surgical procedure lasted until 6am Thursday morning.

Hospital bosses apologised to the man and his family after the incident, which has been classified as a so-called sentinel event, or an “unexpected occurrence” involving death or serious injury.

“The hospital was very concerned about the incident,” a statement said. “A root cause analysis panel will be set up to look into the incident and propose recommendations to prevent its recurrence.”

A report on the matter will be submitted to the Hospital Authority within eight weeks.

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